Pumpkin Season is Coming

If you know me, then you know Fall is my favorite season of the year. You also know pumpkin flavored anything is life. Here in August, I’m already getting excited by all of the upcoming pumpkin products being advertised!

Dunkin Donuts

I am seriously in love with Dunkin’s advertising this year. I love coffee, lattes AND donuts, and will most certainly be making stops to get my morning pumpkin fix in.

 

Beer

Yes, I am a sucker for pumpkin beer as well. My favorites: Big Muddy’s Pumpkin Smasher and O’Fallon’s Pumpkin Beer. I will never turn down a pumpkin beer though, so any challengers are welcome to try me to see if they can give either of those two a run for their money.

 

M&Ms

I know some people make a face when they see these. So far everything I’ve heard about the new candy is positive, so I’m honestly hopeful for M&M’s White Pumpkin Pie.

 

Cheerios

Because Pumpkin Spice is obviously a breakfast thing. Or late night snack thing. Chris found a box of these for me last year and they disappeared pretty quick. Cheerios hit the flavor on the head, so I’ll be keeping an eye out for these.

 

Recipes

 

I’ve been pinning crazy amounts of pumpkin recipes I’ve been wanting to try… Cookies, bars, and yes, even delicious waffles like the ones shown here by Nora from Savory Nothings. My marathon long runs are going to be fueled by delicious flavor.

 

Pie

Can’t forget about the amazing gem that started it all. Pumpkin Pie > all other pie


Bring it on, Fall.

Marathon Training: Balancing Training, Strength Training and Life

The past four weeks I’ve been training for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. Not only has it been crazy hot a few weeks with heat indexes above 100°F, I’ve been spending about 6 hours a week out running. While I know this time will only increase with my previous marathon training experiences, it’s still a bit daunting how much time it takes from your week.

And then there’s strength training. I am 100% behind strength training and have definitely found after adding that to my regular running regime, I have been injury-free AND my running pace has increased.

Generally my gym time has been 45-60 minutes twice a week. Now try to add 2 hours to that 6 or more hours a week and you can see where things begin to become a bit more tricky.

Let’s be honest. Most of us have lives outside of keeping physically fit.

So the past few weeks I’ve been trying to figure out how to balance everything. Where I’ve been able to get all of my run workouts in (mostly during the early morning, when it’s bearable outside), I’ve been able to fit in maybe one day worth of strength training… And that hasn’t even been at the gym. That was in my basement. On a yoga mat.

After listening to Another Mother Runner’s podcast about Strength Training, I am happy to report this is more than okay. It doesn’t even need to be super long!

I’ve been able to fit the following workouts in around 30 minutes and have been able to go on throughout my day/future workouts without being sore. All of these moves are also basic, so you don’t have to worry about injuring your body with one wrong movement. I do recommend making sure you are doing the exercises correctly however to make sure you don’t hurt yourself.

Simple Strength Training Workout
18-20 reps (repetitions), go through cycle 3 three times

  • Lunges
  • Step-Ups (I use stairs or a sturdy chair)
  • Squats
  • Planks (I add in Side Planks to work everything)
  • Push-Ups
  • Side-Lying Clams

Each of these workouts work parts of your body that are used while running. I find that even my arms help pull me through those large hills. My goal is to up my weekly strength workouts to two days a week, but one time a week is a must to keep my body on point. I’m also only currently using my body-weight, but hope to get some weights to use to add resistance.

Keep Me Weird, Portland – Part 3 [The Finale]

Friday we stopped at Biscuit Bitch in Seattle before we headed back down to Portland. The name had us. Various yummy biscuit & gravy possibilities served there along with great coffee/espresso drinks. I had their Dirty Pumpkin Chai Latte; well done Biscuit Bitch.

Later that evening we drove to Hillsboro to see the Hillsboro Hops play. Unfortunately they lost their game, but my goal going in was achieved. We got our picture taken with their mascot, Barley the Hop. LOVE IT. We both also ended up with awesome hats.

Saturday, the whole family ventured back into the city to go to the Saturday Market. I got a cool fox print with our venture and we did the tourist thing: Voodoo Donuts. For as much hate as it gets from some people, I loved my Old Dirty Bastard. Donut covered in chocolate and peanut butter, can’t go wrong.. Though I got halfway through and couldn’t finish (that’s what he said).

Later that day, Chris and I braved the high 90 degree weather to visit the Japanese Gardens. I have been a few times, but it never gets boring. Sometimes it’s nice to get away from everything… Especially with views like these.

We met up with my old friend Kate for a few drinks and board games. We played The Oregon Trail and thought we had finished with only losing Kate to snakebite.. To find out we only made it halfway. No wonder some of those people stopped in Denver.

We also got to see the Naked Bike Ride before we went back home. The memories.

Sunday was going to be another hot day, so the family headed to the beach. Funny relationship between Portland and Cannon Beach; if Portland has nice weather, Cannon Beach is going to be rainy. If it’s hot/rainy in Portland, it’s nice as Cannon Beach. We actually had fog while we were there, but you could still see the ocean and Haystack Rock (a popular place for marriage proposals). Much cooler weather as well, we were happy with low 70s.

Monday was a day full of sad goodbyes. We said our good-byes to my brother, sister-face and Trent before saying good-bye and having one last espresso drink from Black Rock Coffee Bar, my favorite stop every morning in the past week. We said goodbye to the beautiful green trees and beautiful mountain views that we got to experience that week. We even said goodbye to the nicety of having someone else pump your own gas.

We had an awesome time in Portland and hope to be back soon to see my fam as well as all of the awesome things Portland has to offer.

Keep Me Weird, Portland – Part 2 [Seattle Edition]

Thursday Chris and I went up to Seattle. Again, Chris had never been in the area before, and I had only been for a weekend… And that was before I could drink.

We first hit the Museum of Pop Culture, which was pretty cool. Things we saw included: a guitar history exhibit, Indie Game exhibit, Fantasy exhibit, Star Trek exhibit (Chris geeked out) and they had a Jim Henson exhibit. I think that one was probably my favorite. I had no idea how big of a deal Jim Henson was; not only did he create the Muppets, he was also along for the ride of Sesame Street and created a ton of commercials for different companies using his puppets. He even created two movies: The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. Both which I haven’t seen, but now know I need to thanks to several “I can’t believe you haven’t seen them!” remarks.

I got two treats for lunch that day. First, I got ramen, which I haven’t had authentic ramen for some time. Two, I got to see Chris use chopsticks. Oh the memories.

Next we hit the Pike Market, because tourism. We spent some time looking around there and checking out the ocean and beautiful views.

Afterwards we went to Seattle Brewing where we were picked up by the Road Dogs for a brewery tour. I love brewery tours; you get to go try different beers at different places and hang out with others who share the same passion as you. The guys we actually went out with had JUST got done climbing Mount Rainier. Impressive stuff.

Road Dogs took us out to the Fremont area to three different stops: Hale’s Ales, Outlander Brewery & Pub and Fremont Brewery. Not only was our tour guide a great guy, we had WAY more tasters than we’ve ever had on a brewery tour. It was pretty much a “Oh you want to try that one? One sec, let me get you that.”

Hale’s Ales and Fremont were both pretty good, but my favorite had to be Outlander Brewery, by far. Their outdoor porch area to chill was super nice, and you had hop vines hanging right above you. They also had an electric harp player. What.

I also got to meet the guy who brewed the beer. Before we went in, our tour guide said Outlander’s brewer looked like a viking. He wasn’t kidding. Super tall, but super cool guy who made REALLY good beer.

My favorite was a tie the Tiramasu Brown; slightly sweeter beer, but not too sweet and the Imperial Peanut Butter Stout; because peanut butter. They also had a very interesting Holy Basil Pale and Ancho Amber. Basil is interesting to drink.. But thankfully it wasn’t too strong of a basil taste. Ancho Amber is what it sounds like; slightly spicy start, but a smooth finish thanks to the amber ale.

To complete our Seattle tour, we got to see the troll under the bridge. I even got to do the Seattle thing to do when you get your picture taken with him. Fun fact: Did you know there is actually a real car buried underneath his hand?

Our third stop, Fremont Brewing & the Troll Under the Bridge

Keep Me Weird, Portland – Part 1

Chris and I went out to Portland, Oregon to visit my brother, sister-in-law and my adorable, just over one year old nephew, Trent. It’s safe to say plenty of good times were had.

We arrived late Tuesday afternoon. After getting through the airport to get our bags, taking a Lyft to pick up our car, and then driving through after work traffic to get to my brother’s, it was… Dinner time.

Thankfully my brother and sister-face (inside joke) know pleeeeeenty of good spots. We ended up actually going to Pour Craft House, where you can order food from nearby restaurants. We also had picked up some Japanese pastries from Oyatsupan next door, so Chris and I settled on sharing nachos while enjoying some awesome craft brews. Definitely check out Pour Craft House if you’re in the area – Well worth the visit.

The pastry is known as Mt. Hood, named after Portland’s neighbor mountain. On the tray is Everybody’s Brewing Sprinkles, Thunder Island Brewing’s Covfefe, Ancestry Brewing’s NW Red, and Saint Archer Brewing’s Blonde Ale. My favorite was Oats and Hoes by 54°40′ Brewing Company (not in photo); a delicious, well made oatmeal stout.

After this, we ended up heading back to my brother’s to ultimately hit the hay – Trent was up past his bedtime and we too were pretty sleepy (still running on Central time).

Wednesday was my first Portland run in a while and boy did I miss it. (FYI – I lived out in Portland for a year while attending culinary school. There’s your fun fact of the day.) It is so much cooler and less humid there, so even hitting the hills didn’t seem so bad.

Afterwards, we WERE going to hit the Japanese Gardens… However, apparently that day was one of the first days of nice dry weather in Portland. ALL of the parking was taken up – So we moved onto Plan B: We hit a public parking garage, got on the MET transit and heading downtown.

Since this was Chris’ first time in the area ever, we had to show him all of the tourist-y things. First: Powell’s Books. If you haven’t been, Powell’s Books is known as one of the largest book stores out there. Downtown’s location has AT LEAST six floors worth of books. I ended up picking up the fourth copy of Stumptown (had to happen) and Chris got another Star Wars graphic novel he needed.

Afterwards was lunch time. We ended up stopping at Deschutes Brewery. Funny story: We were all looking at the lunch specials, and someone brought up the grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup side. You’ll never guess what ALL of us got. So good, especially with that Tillamook cheese… (Yes, we’re all secretly kids.) While we were there, I had the Smash Berry Toast: very good pale ale with a slight berry kick at the end. Yum.

Afterwards we took the Streetcar to NW 21st and 23rd street to check out all of the small shops and to walk off the so good, but so big grilled cheese sandwiches. The full stomach didn’t stop us from hitting up Salt & Straw for some fun ice cream flavors. I ended up with Amaretto Cherry, once again, REALLY good (and vegan!).

It’s hard to go to Portland and have bad food/beer. They know how it’s done.

Peoria & the Steamboat Classic 2017

It’s crazy how time flies. One moment you’re being proposed to, you say yes, the next blink of the eye, you’re married and half way through your first year of being a Mrs.

Our wedding day is one I’ll never forget; the weather was perfect for our outdoor ceremony and the reception was a ton of fun thanks to our family and friends. (Obviously Chris was extra pumped because his Cubs clinched their World Series spot. And we all know how that one ended.)

Now here we are in the middle of June. Life is slowly getting back to normal. Races have been run, travel is coming, and nerd-ing out has happened on a regular basis.


This past weekend we headed over to Peoria to run the Steamboat Classic. We traveled Friday night, because who wants to get up at 4am and drive the same day to and from a race? Our pre-race dinner always consists of pizza and beer.. Carbs and protein. Right??

I searched out several places, and eventually we decided on Old Chicago. Yes, it’s a chain, but a chain we’ve never been to and it had hand tossed pizza.

Hand tossed pizza of awesomeness. And a pretty good selection of craft beer; several of the choices were from around the area. The pizza crust even supposedly had ‘ale’ in it. We were impressed with that along with the delicious toppings.

I tried Cathedral Square Brewery’s Heavenly Honey Razz and it. Was. Heavenly. It’s a great summer beer – light in feel and has a nice sweet taste at the end. Not candy sweet, but more of a raspberry, fruity sweet.

I also tried Bell’s Brewery Oarsman Ale and wasn’t as impressed. Pretty bland, but it wasn’t the worst either.

We stayed at our first AirBnB that evening and had an awesome hostess. We actually never got to meet her, but got to meet her pup. Cassie was a big ol’ teddy bear who loved to hand out kisses. There was also much cuddling.

The next morning we went downtown for the race. It was packed; I knew it was pretty big due to how fast the finishers were from the previous year, but it was still an eye opener when we got there. The weather was great at the start; the clouds hid the sun, there was no humidity and a slight breeze.

I was slightly nervous since I forgot my GPS watch at home. I know people say they run their best races without a watch, but I like to be able to look every once and awhile to make sure I’m not being stupid and running something I feel good now in but hate myself halfway in and half-dead jogging the rest of the way. I knew they were going to have a clock at every mile mark, but still.

We runners have our tendencies we like to keep. I tend to not like to mix it up on race day.

Despite that, we both had a great run. The race course was fun. Not much in the way of uphills… Until you get to the halfway point. We decided to do the 4 miler; the 15K-ers split off in the middle of our run to go do their thing. I looked over to where they were heading and was very happy we made the choice we did. The 15K-ers were sent straight to a pretty steep uphill. Good luck to them, I thought.

However at that point, the weather did start to change. The humidity started to raise it’s ugly head and the sweating commenced. I thanked God for the half-way water stop where I chugged down some water and kept going. At mile three there was a water mister you could run through… And I most definitely made it a point to run through that glorious tunnel of water.

We got to run flat until the last half mile, where there was a nice downhill to the finish.

My favorite kind of finish.

I finished Steamboat Classic’s 4 mile race in 32:46, finished in the top 10 of my age group, and impressed myself by keeping around a 8:12 minute pace without my trusty GPS watch. Am I impressed with my mental status to keep myself in check throughout the race? Yes.

Am I still going to race with a GPS watch? Without a doubt, hell yes.

What’s Your Element?

You know those quizzes you can take on Facebook? The “What Is Your Element” quiz where you either get something like Light, Fire, Electricity, Heart, etc?

Well, I know all of those quiz results lie to me. I know my element.

Autumn Trees

It’s Autumn.

Don’t know what it is. The pumpkin spice everything, the changing of colors, the cooling temperatures or the fact that fall clothing looks 100 times better than all of the other apparel out there.

Pumpkin Patch: Trip 1

From the spoken words of my friends, I am the queen of Fall. If you need to get into the autumn spirit, talk to me. I have already been to two pumpkin patches this year. Two. And I know that will not be the end of it.

Pumpkin Patch Trip: 2

Corn mazes, apple cider slushies, picking pumpkins for harvesting later… Honestly what could be a better way to spend your afternoon?

Not only is there pumpkin everything, the weather becomes cooler.

Cool weather = better running.

The humid, early morning runs are gone, and the cool, racing fall days are here. This Sunday I am running my fourth marathon and the forecasted high is 71° F with sunny skies.

It makes those, humid early mornings worth it. (You have no idea how hard it was to type that.)

And after that, it will be a perfect time to binge watch fall TV. Flash, The Walking Dead, Agents of Shield, Arrow, iZombie, Star Wars: Rebels…

Fall TV Series

And we haven’t even gotten to Halloween yet.

What are you most excited for with Fall?

Another “Nothing Planned Saturday”

Sometimes you have those weekends where you have plans. Music festival, beer fest, comic cons… And then you have those weekends, where beside one or two smaller things, you have nothing planned. What do you do? Besides training runs, here’s how my weekend turned out:

Splatoon

Splatoon
Don’t know what it is about online multiplayer games and shooting things, but I love it. Even more so that I’m a squid that can swim through ink and hit people with paintballs and paint rollers like a ninja. I have been told I have an addiction with this game, and it didn’t help that this weekend was Splatoon’s Art vs Science Splatfest. Sorry Billy Nye, but I pick Art class over Science any day.

Spoiler alert: Art won.

Mistborn - Hero of Ages

The Hero of Ages (Mistborn)
After settling down from our move, I was finally able to make it to the library and picked up Hero of Ages, the final book in Vin’s story from Brandon Sanderson. So far I’ve made it to chapter three and have already read through some events that make me fall in love Sanderson’s writing even more. With it being the last book with Vin, I already know there will be plenty of feels to the end of this story.

How I Met Your Mother

How I Met Your Mother
How I Met Your Mother has been an on and off series for me. There are times where I sit down and watch four-five episodes, and then I can go several months without watching it again. Despite that, the characters in this show all have their own quirks and characteristics that make you feel an attachment toward each of them. There’s also some great life lessons included as well.

“If you’re not scared, you’re not taking a chance. If you’re not taking a chance, then what the hell are you doing?”

Marathon Training Essentials

So you’ve decided you’re up for running a half or full marathon. Congratulations, welcome to the insane asylum. Hopefully before this point you’ve done one or two 10Ks so you have a general idea of what you’re getting yourself into.

Once you have picked out your half/full marathon, it can get to be confusing. Where do you go from here? The following items listed below will help get you on your way to conquering your race!

Note: It doesn’t matter if you’re running a half or full, all of the essential items remain the same. The only difference is you’ll be needing more of certain items that I will explain in a bit more detail.

Marathon Training Essentials-1

  1. Shoes
  2. Training Plan
  3. GPS Watch
  4. Hydration Belt
  5. Energy Chews/Gels
  1. Shoes – These babies will be your biggest tool what gets you from point A to point B. While yes, you can go to Target or another convenience store and buy a pair of tennis shoes, I do NOT recommend this. Go to your local running store and talk to one of their professionals. A good running store will have someone who will sit down with you, go over your foot features (width and length), watch you run and have you try on a few different shoes. While yes, it is not $30, it is money that will keep your feet happy while beating the pavement and help prevent injuries.
  1. Training Plan – If you expect to go out and randomly run a few miles each week before your big race, you’re going to be in trouble on race day. There are several options out there; make sure they have easy run days, speedwork (sometimes called tempo or fartlek) days and long run days. Hal Higdon has several plans for you to choose from, from beginning runners to more advanced. He knows his stuff and has gotten me through several marathons.
  1. GPS Watch – Now that you have your shoes and your training program, you now need to make sure you’re actually getting the right amount of miles in while you run. Garmin is my trusted brand (love my 200). Not only does it tell you your mileage, pace and time, you can also hook it up to your computer and have it store your history. I have also heard good things about Soleus (that is a bit less costly.)
  1. Hydration Belt – Repeat with me: “I am not a camel.” Shorter runs you can hydrate before and after, but during your longer than 6 mile runs, you should really have water on your person so you can drink during. Water bottles are nice, but hydration belts give you more water access as well as room for your phone, keys, pepper spray, and…
  1. Energy Chews/Gels – So you’re not a camel. Your body, after a certain point, also needs to refuel on energy. For me, it’s about an hour. If I don’t get something after this point, by the time I get home I feel sluggish. Honey Stingers are a great energy source. They taste like gummy bears and are made with natural ingredients. ½ package per hour out running. GU and Huma are gels that also work for energy.

Mistborn

I enjoy reading Young Adult as much as the next person, but the past several books I picked up from the library were let downs. The heroine fell in love with the “bad boy”, the story didn’t have much plot… I could go on and on.

Where’s the strong heroine? The plot twists?

That’s when I did some research and decided to try the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanders after seeing several good things about it online.

And I’m very glad I did.

Mistborn

Here’s the first book’s description:

“In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with color once more?”

If you enjoy magic, these books include that as well. Allomancy is the magic of metals in the book. If you digest a certain metal, you get an ability power from said metal. (It actually reminds me quite a bit of Alchemy from Fullmetal Alchemist.) Abilities from metals include: strength, far sight, manipulating one’s emotions, and more.

Mistlings are born with a single ability they can use.

Those who were born Mistborn can use any ability in Allomancy.

The first book, The Final Empire, follows two characters’ point of view: Kelsier, a free-spirited rebel whose out to change the world even if everyone else thinks he’s crazy, and then there’s Vin, an orphan whose timid yet wise beyond her years and thrown into Kelsier’s insane idea after certain events unfold.

Keisler by marcsimonettiTypical Kelsier.

While each book is pretty lengthy (about 700 pages per book), the plot keeps the reader engaged. I began reading the first book and was being lead one direction in thinking how it would end, and then read events that had said plot go a complete different way. Plenty of mystery to keep you turning the pages.

The character development… There is a lot of character development. I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone who will read the book (which you should), but all of the characters, especially Vin, change due to events in the story.

I just finished the second book, The Well of Ascension, and enjoyed it as much as the first. There is a third, The Hero of Ages, that concludes the first story, and then a fourth that continues the magic of Allomancy, but in Western times.

If you’re looking for a good read that will keep you engaged through mystery and magic, check out Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanders. I can pretty much promise you if you enjoy those elements in a story, the book will not disappoint you.